The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down,
a guidance for the people, and clear verses of guidance and criterion.
[Quran: Chapter 2:183]


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Menstruating Women and Ramadan

How to Make the Most of Ramadan When You Are Unable to Fast

Menstruating women are not supposed to fast during Ramadan, nor are they to do the daily five prayers, and the nightly Teraweeh prayers. During Ramadan, for many Muslims, fasting and praying are the primary activities. For a menstruating Muslim woman, losing five to six days of Ramadan can be a disconcerting event. How can a Muslim woman increase her worship of Allah when she is menstruating? Some women may even feel a certain resentment, and wonder why fasting and prayers are prohibited for them when they menstruate. Is it because they are unclean? No!

The answer is simple.

While blood itself is considered a material impurity (najas), a menstruating woman or one with post-natal bleeding is considered to be in a state of ‘ritual impurity’ (hadath). This distinction, which can be found in any basic text of Islamic jurisprudence, is not insignificant. Being in a state of ritual impurity really has no deeper connotation or implication as to a person’s worth or standing before Allah. Both men and women are at times in this state, and ritual purity (tahara) and ritual impurity are interesting concepts that are not always connected with what we would normally consider ‘filthy’ or ‘clean.’ For example, one can perform tayammum, literally dusting one’s hands and face with earth, and then legally be considered in a state of ritual purity. There is even a hadith in which ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that at a time when she happened to be on her menses, the Prophet (peace be upon him) rested his head on her lap in a moment of repose, and even recited from the Qur’an. If she were truly impure in the ordinary understanding of the word, would our noble Prophet have rested on her in such a way?

Being in a state of ritual impurity, therefore, does not necessarily mean one is ‘unclean’ in the conventional use of the term. Accordingly, the related prohibitions do not necessarily imply that one is forced to be distant from Allah and the means of getting close to Him. If this premise were true, then all acts of worship and communication with the Divine would have likewise been made prohibited, like saying dhikr (certain formulations of remembrance) with the tongue and making du`a’ (supplication). These are very intimate spiritual actions which put a person in direct connection and communication with Allah, yet are allowed for us during this time.

All these things strengthen the idea that the restrictions during menstruation and post-natal bleeding are an expression of Allah’s mercy and kindness towards us, more so than as a type of forced estrangement from Him. They can be regarded as a dispensation, to allow us an interim for comfort and rejuvenation while in a state of physical weakness and tiredness. This may also lead us to return to salah, fasting and reading Quran with renewed energy, interest and passion.


While menstruating Muslim women are prohibited from ritual prayer and fasting, there are many other things they can do to increase their worship of Allah during this period.

1) Dhikr - remembrance of Allah.

2) Dua - continuing to supplicate Allah

3) Online Islamic Studies to gain Islamic knowledge

4) Helping out mother/sisters in cooking iftar meals for the family or community

5) Reading the Quran

Some people argue that a menstruating woman should not touch the Quran, or recite the Quran.

So can a Muslim woman indeed read the Quran while menstruating? There are different schools of thought on this.

Some scholars including Imam Malik believe that the menstruating woman is allowed to read the Qur'an during her period. This opinion is also reported from Ahmad Ibn Hambal and is one of Imam Shafi'e 's opinions about this matter. But this is in contradiction with the majority of the scholars who forbid her to read the Quran while in her period. But we believe that the most preponderant and sound opinion is that it is lawful for her to recite the Qur'an from her memory or read from a Mus'haf provided she does not touch the Mus'haf directly. As for making Du'a, she is allowed to make Du'a while in her menstruation period anytime during the day or the night. There is no disagreement over the last issue.

Today, we have online resources to avail of. A menstruating woman can listen to Quran recitation via many online resources many with translations of the Arabic, without having to touch the actual book (Quran).

Allah knows best, and may you all have a fruitful and productive Ramadan, InshaAllah.


Special Ramadan Series

Dear Reader, Assalaamu’alaikum.

Ramadan Mubarak. We wish you a blessed and productive Ramadan! Make no mistake about it - keeping the fast and increasing our acts of worship during this blessed month is not an easy task. The physical demands of balancing work or school with fasting all day, feeling fatigued and less effective than you normally are, waking up for Suhoor, praying Teraweeh and Tahajjud prayers, dealing with sleep deficits.

But the last thing we would want is to let Ramadan pass us by without doing all that we aim and desire to. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty or regretful when Ramadan passes.

The Ramadan Series will send you emails with practical tips on how to gain and maintain the physical and spiritual energy necessary to embark on increased religious oligations so that you will reap the benefits from this blessed month. This includes special Ramadan duas to say during the month. Do sign-up today!

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